Top museums to visit in New York

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 7:39 AM

If you're planning to spend a few days in New York while on a USA holiday, it is well worth visiting one of the city's celebrated museums. Renowned for its fabulous selection, it is a fantastic place for culture vultures, history lovers and art aficionados alike. So, just what are the top museums to visit? Find out with our guide.

The Guggenheim

Among the best galleries to go to in New York City is the Guggenheim, a fascinating art museum that is as renowned for being an architectural icon as it is for its exhibits. This striking building is situated on Fifth Avenue and, with its unusual exterior, is hard to miss. As well as admiring it from the outside, don't miss the chance to head inside to view its permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

What is particularly interesting about this venue is that, in addition to displaying works by the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso, it also acts as a cultural centre and educational institution. This means a variety of talks, lectures, film screenings and other events are held here regularly. So, if you are interested in learning more about the art of the 20th century and beyond on your USA city break, this is the ideal place to come.

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art - or MoMA, as it is often abbreviated to - is one of the city's most popular museums. Situated at 11 West 53 Street, it houses more than 100,000 pieces of modern art, making it easy to spend the whole day exploring its fine displays. Among the artists whose works you can see here include Pollock, Cezanne and Matisse, to name but a few.

Gallery talks are held twice daily, with the subject matter changing regularly, so it is worth checking online before you travel to find something that sparks your interest. There are also some excellent restaurants and cafes onsite, including the Michelin-starred The Modern. Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 are also available if you are looking for more casual refreshments.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Not all of the city's finest museums are dedicated to art, and there are several where you can discover some of the city's most moving moments in history. One of the best - and perhaps also one of the lesser-known - is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Here, you will be able to learn all about the history of this district with the museum's impressive recreations of tenements from the turn of the 20th century.

These include immigrant dwellings from the Great Depression years of 1873 and 1929, as well as the 19th-century shop and home of the Polish Levine family. You can only visit the museum with a pre-booked tour, so it is vital to plan ahead, but it is well worth doing so. What's more, you can also go on walking tours of the area, which focus on different themes, such as the Lower East Side past and present, and experiencing the district through its food.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is another hugely popular attraction to visit during New York holidays. It comprises two buildings, with the main being located on the eastern edge of Central Park and a smaller in Upper Manhattan. Boasting a vast list of displays, it covers a wide cultural spectrum, including medieval art, Roman art, musical instruments, photography, arms and armour, and modern art, plus plenty more.

While you're here, you can peruse works from antiquity right up to the modern day, including pieces from Monet, Rembrandt and O'Keeffe. There is so much to see that it can be hard to know where to begin, but free guided tours are available, which can introduce you to the gallery's highlights.

This is just a handful of the museums and galleries the city is home to, and it is a good idea to keep an eye out for any others that may interest you on your travels. For example, if you plan to visit the Statue of Liberty, it is well worth including a trip to Ellis Island on your tour, where you can explore a fascinating museum dedicated to the city's rich immigration heritage. More recent additions to the city's list of museums include the Ground Zero Museum, where you can see emotional exhibits relating to the 9/11 atrocity.

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